Business Analysis

Internet dominates the way we watch TV

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Online services have surpassed traditional broadcast TV as the preferred way we watch content (Screenshot via YouTube/edited by Dan Jensen)

Internet TV and subscription streaming services have taken over as the leading way consumers watch TV, according to a new survey. Paul Budde reports.

ACCORDING TO A SURVEY conducted by the ANU’s Social Research Centre, online services have surpassed broadcast TV as the preferred way for Australian adults to watch screen content. The survey found that 66% of respondents had an online subscription service last year, up from 62% in 2021. Free video streaming services were the second most popular platform, with 58% of Australians watching one in the past seven days.

The survey also revealed that most Australians considered internet connection the most important aspect when buying a new television, while free-to-air content remained an important factor. Over 65% used online subscription services, 58% accessed free video streaming services and commercial free-to-air TV. Additionally, almost half watched screen content on other websites or apps, including Facebook, TikTok and Instagram, which has seen a significant increase while pay-per-view has declined.

The survey found that Netflix was the top streaming service, accessed by 68% of respondents, but Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Binge, Kayo and Paramount+ have all significantly increased in popularity. Televisions were the most frequently used devices, with around 87% of respondents using them, but mobile phones or smartphones were used more often than five times a day by 22% of respondents to watch video material.

TV smart accessories, such as Google Chromecast, showed growth with 23% of respondents using them in the past six months. However, nearly half of the respondents had not used any TV smart accessories. The survey also found that most households have at least two television sets and at least one of them was connected to the internet. These findings will help to inform the Government's media reform agenda, including the final design of a framework for connected TV devices, according to Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.

I did find another interesting set of statistics from the 2022 Deloitte Media Consumer Survey:

  • 84% of respondents have at least one digital entertainment subscription, with Gen Z taking the lead (4.5 subscriptions on average);
  • the top digital entertainment activity overall is watching live free-to-air TV, followed by watching subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) TV and movies;
  • 64% are concerned about the cost of having multiple subscriptions, with many overspending average target monthly budgets (led by Gen Z);
  • 46% make a habit of periodically reviewing and adjusting their SVOD subscriptions, 58% would pay for ad-free TV and movies while 46% would accept 12 minutes of ads an hour for a free video-on-demand subscription;
  • 34% rank TV news programs as their most frequent source for news, followed by social media (14%);
  • 34% use social media as their primary source for news and current affairs (11% of Gen Z);
  • 6% don’t follow the news at all;
  • 82% see trustworthiness as the most important factor when it comes to their news source;
  • 29% spend more than two hours per day, up from 26% in 2021;
  • 68% say engaging with friends and family on social media is just as rewarding as engaging in real life;
  • 39% create and share their own content and 64% of people spend more time watching user-generated content than planned;
  • 30% have a sport subscription and 49% pay at least $20 per month; and
  • women’s sport continues its meteoric rise, with the majority of viewers being male.

Paul Budde is an Independent Australia columnist and managing director of Paul Budde Consulting, an independent telecommunications research and consultancy organisation. You can follow Paul on Twitter @PaulBudde.

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